Bad business decision
September 21, 2009
Editor’s note: The following letter was originally sent to David Perry, senior vice president at Aspen Skiing Co.
Thank you for your personalized form letter I received with the mailed 2009-10 season pass information. I was more than disappointed to discover that you eliminated the locals two-day-a-week pass. I have purchased that pass for years because I work five days a week. As you have acknowledged, these “current economic times are difficult,” and surviving here as a local is now even more challenging.
I usually ski more than 40 days during the ski season. Most of these days are on one of the Aspen Skiing Co. mountains, but I also enjoy the backcountry and other ski areas. The “new Flex Pass” definitely does not replace the value of the two-day-a-week pass no matter how you spin it. As you know, the “super early” Chamber Flex Pass is a substantial cost increase ($1,679 for 40 days previously covered by the two-day-a-week pass). The total pass cost is $1,904 with a $225 chamber membership. You recommend that I purchase a “super early” Premier Chamber Pass for $1,099 plus a $225 Chamber membership. $1,324 is similarly a large increase.
Your portrayal of these two options as “more affordable” is more than disingenuous, particularly in these economic conditions. Portraying the Premier Pass as an affordable two-day-a-week substitute is similar to raising the price at an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner. How many bowls of pasta can you eat? How many days can a local working five days a week ski? Other Colorado ski areas are discounting their passes because of poor economic conditions. Even trophy homes in Aspen/Snowmass are discounted hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why is the Aspen Skiing Co.’s response to squeeze the valley’s locals much harder for extra cash? Is it because you say, “having a season pass is not optional.” Perhaps your thinking has become fuzzy because you monopolize four out of the five ski areas in the Roaring Fork Valley.
I enjoy the great Forest Service skiing terrain at the Aspen Skiing Co. areas, and I enjoy the high-speed lifts because I love to ski. Your high-dollar restaurant improvements, Adventure Center and paid parking lots do not improve the skiing. They are part of your business plan aimed at the tourist. It seems there is a flaw in this business plan. Your pricing this season will steer locals to I-70 corridor ski areas with discounted passes instead of inviting resident skiers to utilize the Skico.
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During these hard economic times, it makes even more sense to support local skiers when your skier numbers may be worse than your 2008-09 season. Contrary to your opinion that a ski pass for locals is “not optional,” an Aspen Skiing Co. pass with this pricing definitely is. I hope that the Aspen Skiing Co. will reinstate the two-day-a-week pass because you will recognize that elimination of the pass was a business plan error. Thank you for your consideration.